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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 16:32 GMT
Centre-right hails Denmark triumph
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Winner: Anders Fogh Rasmussen celebrates victory
Danish Liberal Party leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen has pledged to tighten immigration rules after winning a dramatic election victory influenced by the 11 September attacks.

His right-wing coalition of Liberals and Conservatives stormed to victory after a campaign dominated by asylum issues.

The far-right Danish People's Party also doubled its vote and won 22 seats - making it the third-largest party in the 179-seat parliament.

We have to make stricter laws so that fewer foreigners come to Denmark

Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Denmark's long-serving Prime Minister, Social Democrat Poul Nyrup Rasmussen - who called the snap election while ahead in the opinion polls - handed his resignation to Queen Margrethe after seeing his left-wing coalition's support slump.

Mr Fogh Rasmussen, head of the winning coalition, is almost certain to succeed him in the post.

The election result ends almost a decade of Social Democrat-led government, and marks the first time since the 1920s that the Liberals have held more seats than the Social Democrats.

Pia Kjaersgaard
Winner: Pia Kjaersgaard doubled far-right support
Mr Fogh Rasmussen declared it an historic day, and said he would try to unite Denmark.

"I want to form a broad co-operation. That would create the most durable results and security for the people," he said.

His chief policies, he said, would be to "reform hospitals, ensure better care of the elderly, increase maternity leave to one year... tighten policy regarding foreigners and, from day one, put a lid on taxes."

The People's Party leader, Pia Kjaeersgaard, has previously likened the inflow of refugees and immigrants to an invasion.

Coalition count
Centre-right coalition - 98 seats
Social Democrat-led coalition - 77 seats
Four other seats set aside for the Danish overseas territories
Mr Fogh Rasmussen will almost certainly need her party's backing, but has said its members would not form part of his administration.

The election was called by Mr Nyrup Rasmussen in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks, as his popularity temporarily soared.

Correspondents say he assumed that voters would continue to rally behind his leadership in a time of international crisis.

But instead, the right-wingers campaigned vigourously for a tightening of immigration in the wake of the attacks, and voters backed them.

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, who is not related to his rival, said his party would now be a fair and consistent opposition.

"The country we are now handing over to a centre-right government is a far better one than it was when we came to power almost nine years ago," he said.

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Loser: Poul Nyrup Rasmussen has resigned
Fears have been expressed by ethnic minorities and senior politicians that Ms Kjaeersgaard's party will be able to influence policy.

The Swedish Prime Minister, Goran Persson, was among those who voiced concern.

"It's clear I'm worried. We now see a centre-right government which will be forced to prop itself up with anti-foreigner ideas."

And policital analyst Ole Tonsgaard said: "Mr Fogh Rasmussen will have to listen to the (party)."

But Mr Fogh Rasmussen rejected concerns about the government's direction expressed by Liberals in other countries.

"They know us and it must be based on misunderstandings," he said.

Less than 5% of Denmark's 5.3 million population are foreigners - a lower figure than in many European nations.

Danes give more per capita than any other nation in the world to developing nations.

The BBC's William Horsley
"Other Scandinavian leaders are worried about the re-emergence of the far-right"
Dr Kamal Kureshi, Social People's Party
says the results is very disappointing
Jan Anderson, Swedish MEP
"I am worried for the people of Denmark"
See also:

21 Nov 01 | Europe
Rasmussen v Rasmussen
31 Oct 01 | Europe
Danish PM calls snap election
19 Nov 01 | Europe
Danes undecided as polls loom
22 Aug 01 | Europe
Danes criticise immigrant list
09 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Denmark
26 Nov 01 | Europe
Europe guages Danish no vote
28 Sep 00 | Europe
Danes say no to euro
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